Star Savvy

Borchering doesn't get star-struck




Bobby Borchering
Forgive Bobby Borchering if he doesn't seem fazed by the attention heaped on him as one of the top high school prospects in the class of 2009. The third baseman, who draws praise for both his bat and sense for the game, is no stranger to the spotlight, whether it be drawing the attention of baseball's commissioner, brushing shoulders with All-Stars or appearing on a Nickelodeon television show.

While not the son of a big league player, Borchering has spent more time than most around big league superstars and on major league fields. At the age of 12 Borchering was chosen by Nickelodeon to interview major league players for a segment that would later appear on the television channel. Interacting with established big leaguers like Todd Helton, Melvin Mora and Jason Giambi gave Borchering his first taste of what its like to play baseball at an elite level.

In 2005, Borchering got the chance of a lifetime when he was selected to shag balls for the Home Run Derby at Comerica Park in Detroit. In what has become a trend throughout his baseball career, Borchering refused to just blend into the crowd, stealing attention from one of the game's greatest players when he robbed Albert Pujols of a home run. Bud Selig, in attendance, twirled his finger to signal a homerun, probably without the knowledge that he might be calling the name of the 14-year old who caught the ball four years later in the first round of the 2009 draft.

Considered one of the premier infielders in his class, the scouting report on Borchering reads like a scout's dream as the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Borchering shows serious power from both sides of the plate.

"Bobby has been a dominant hitter and pitcher since his freshman and sophomore year," Bishop Verot coach Tom LoSauro said. "(His junior year) he really came into his own."

Playing in one of Florida's most prestigious high school tournaments, The Sarasota Classic, Borchering announced himself as one of the top prospects in the class of 2009 by dominating on both sides of the ball. With three home runs in the tournament and an outstanding pitching performance against Miami Braddock—whose lineup boasted Miami signee Harold Martinez—Borchering not only displayed his outstanding ability, but his penchant for performing in big moments.

"He had probably as good of a week as I've seen him have," LoSauro said. "It showed what is a real attribute for him, the bigger the moment, the bigger the spotlight, the more he shines."

While the spotlight of the Sarasota Classic as a junior might have been Borchering's first taste of elite competition, the past summer would provide his stiffest competition yet, and once again Borchering didn't flinch under the bright lights.  

Even though Borchering is no stranger to major league fields, the chance to actually play on perfectly manicured diamonds, like at USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars this summer, impressed the well-travelled 17-year-old.

"The field surface was the best (I've played on)," Borchering said. "When I go to slide on other fields, sometimes I get cut up, but I didn't get cut up at all."

While, Borchering may have been impressed with the field conditions, the hordes of scouts in attendance were more concerned with the impressive display Borchering put on at the plate, leading his team (Pony) in hitting over the course of the five-game showcase. Borchering's 6-for-18 performance would have been impressive, but Borchering once again separated himself from his peers by shining when the pressure was greatest.

With his Pony team playing in the last game of the day and tied with the RBI team heading into the 10th inning, Borchering capped the night with a shot that left an impression on those who stuck around to watch. Borchering had battled a tendency to fall behind in the count all week and his at bat in the 10th against Alex De La Cruz was no different as he quickly fell into a two-strike hole. Even with two strikes, Borchering displayed his prodigious power, belting a home run out of the main stadium of USA Baseball's National Training Complex, a park that while playing home to North Carolina Tar Heels had stifled some of the ACC's top power hitters.

"I fell behind in the count again with two fastballs," Borchering said. "I wasn't really unloading, but on that particular at-bat I just felt myself unlocking my hands and letting it all fly."
 
Borchering not only excelled at the plate throughout the Tournament of Stars, but also was dominant in a brief appearance on the mound. Borchering threw two innings and struck out five of the seven batters he faced, allowing just one hit.

Even though he features a heavy fastball that he commands in the upper 80s and has shown the ability to shut down elite hitters, Borchering's first love is hitting and playing the field.  

"I really like to hit, and that's my main thing now - just focusing on my positional game," he said. "But I also love to pitch, and when push comes to shove, and I'll just go with whatever helps my team win.  I definitely love doing both."

Borchering's most likely chance to continue pitching would come by attending the University of Florida, where is he committed to attend in the fall of 2009. Although the draft is still months away, Borchering has continued to bolster his stock, performing brilliantly at most stops on the summer showcase circuit.

Perhaps his most impressive performance of the summer came at the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Fla. in August. In the Saturday night game, Borchering turned in one of the most thrilling individual performances of any prospect all summer, going 3-for-3 with a grand slam, leaving him just a triple short of the cycle.

"Ultimately he wants to play pro ball but he realizes you have to have that backup too because you can only play so long and never know what's going to happen," said Borchering's father Barry.

For someone who seems to excel when the pressure is most intense, it would seem Borchering is on the fast track to professional baseball stardom, but for a teenager who balks at spending money on a new bat, the future could go a number of ways.